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KEXP Has Winning Bid for Dark San Francisco FM Station

KEXP had a winning bid of $3.75 million for 92.7 KREV in a potential win for the good guys…

By Paul Marszalek

In a bit of a shocker, Friends of KEXP was the winning bidder in a court-ordered auction of stations previously belonging to Royce International Broadcasting.

A total of four stations and three related translators netted $6.4 million, with KEXP grabbing the Alameda-licensed KREV 92.7 for $3.75 million.

The idea of the legendary Triple A NON-COMM expanding is the stuff fantasies are made of, and it’s just the most recent chapter in an insane story involving 92.7.

For those who’ve been watching closely, KREV found itself in trouble after being sued for not paying royalties, among other things, and was cited in a Rolling Stone article that questioned behavior with an indie promoter.

Royce International ended up in bankruptcy court and the FCC stripped the broadcaster of its licenses — only to have them reinstated in a later court action. As legal expenses mounted, a judge ordered them auctioned – although Royce’s Ed Stolz continues to fight to get them back.

Making the story even weirder is that the stations were originally handed to trustee Larry Patrick of Patrick Communications when Royce first went bankrupt. Patrick Communications has done very well by convincing public radio station license holders to sell to their stations to religious broadcasters.

In a you-can’t-make-this-up moment, this September, Patrick Communications co-owner Susan Patrick pled guilty to tax fraud after failing to report $10 million in gross income, and $9.5 million in personal income. She will be sentenced in December.

But we digress…

If the purchase goes through, it’s a long-awaited win for the good guys. With most of public radio seemingly accepting that it’s part of a melting ice cube, it’s more than refreshing to see an organization that understands the community building power of radio.

KREV 92.7 Coverage Map

KEXP could turn this purchase into a money-making machine – but it won’t be a slam dunk.

The KREV signal is not a good one, as the San Francisco market covers more than 130 miles from north to south. Further, the terrain is a nightmare for FMs. As currently engineered, 92.7 will not hit hot zips the North Bay, San Mateo County (Palo Alto), and Walnut Creek — much less San Jose and the South Bay, where more than 30% of the Nielsen PPM meters reside.

So ratings will be tough to come by, and are likely fluctuate wildly based on the Nielsen panel and size of the streaming audience. There may be additional options: there are two small East Bay FMs that could be in play, and new technologies might help KREV fill in its signal area.

Regardless, KEXP knows perhaps better than anyone that they can plant a flag, create a center of gravity, and monetize the third wealthiest community in the world.

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One comment

  1. Other than offerings by a half dozen campus radio stations and a couple weekly shows on KPFA (Pacifica), The Bay Area is a AAA radio desert. Too bad because so many artists tour through here, spreading the word on social media….but barely a peep on the radio, not like the old days with KSAN, KMEL, KSJO, et al, and certainly nothing like AAA giants like KUTX, KXT, WXPN, WUKY are doing today in other markets. We’ll see what happens with the Live105 reboot. The audience is here, the money is here and everyone digs public radio, so it’s about time that someone stepped-up to make something happen. Thank you KEXP! All the better if they can really engage with local communities and expand the signal westward to the Diablo Valley via KVHS, for example.

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